Let independent dogs be

Earlier in December, the Karnataka High Court issued a judgment saying dogs deemed a menace or seen to cause nuisance can be exterminated by Bangalore authorities whether or not there is evidence of their having mauled or bitten children or adults.


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An independent dog with collar companion to indigent humans.

Chief Justice Vikramjit Sen and Justice B V Nagarathna failed to define the terms “menace” and “nuisance”. Bangalore-based voluntary organisation, Voice of Stray Dogs, has made a detailed assessment of the judgment.

The lives of the independent dogs in Karnataka’s capital would thus depend on arbitrary definitions that may be arrived at by the notoriously inefficient city authorities, who are indifferent to the real woes of Bangaloreans. They ignore hundreds of thousands of pot-holes and dug-up footpaths but want to go after defenceless dogs?

Disturbingly, the judgment precludes any role for Animal Welfare Officers in the matter of “culling”. Moreover, it is stupefying that the judgment covers sterilized and vaccinated dogs too.

In other words, even safe independent dogs may be killed off if some municipal factotum deems them a “menace” and a “nuisance”. This has implications far beyond Karnataka. In many parts of India, there are periodic calls from some sections of the public to “get rid of stray dogs”.

But our space also belongs to other non-human species of fauna, not to mention flora. Birds of various kinds, bees, geckoes, lizards, cats and, of course, dogs have been around since millennia and have coexisted peaceably, making no demands on human beings. In the name of development, cities such as Bangalore have gone about shedding trees and filling up lakes (never mind the lives of species of fauna dependent on these gifts of nature).

Species such as cows, pigs, goats, horses, donkeys, chickens, ducks and others have been enslaved, tortured and exploited by humans for millennia. Others such as dogs and cats have given great joy to hundreds of generations of humans. The affection shown to dogs is returned manifold. The gratitude and loyalty shown by dogs towards humans is unparalleled.

But in a country where casteism, sectarianism (communalism is the word used in India) and racism (as exhibited towards Northeast Indians and African students, for instance) and sexism (witness the female-to-male ratio which has fallen to just above 700-to-1,000 in some districts of India) are rife, could speciesism be far behind?

In India, speciesism – the assignment of different values, rights and consideration on the basis of membership of different species – takes the form of privileging the human vis-à-vis non-human and favouring cows over every other non-human species.

Indigent and homeless people, who are members of the lowest class and mostly of the lowest castes, tend to display a more humane attitude towards dogs. Many of them feed independent dogs, sharing what little they have with their canine companions.

The rich, who favour pedigrees – high caste dogs and equivalents of Aryaputras, so to speak – are unable to see the intelligence of indigenous independent dogs who also, incidentally, have greater immunity compared to “pure” breeds. People who express hatred for other humans in their support for a ban on the slaughter of cows are far less concerned about the demand for “culling” dogs.

Side effect of the garbage crisis

There is now more waste available for independent dogs, and the Bangalore authorities have so far failed miserably to address the garbage crisis.

All this is not to deny that there has been a problem with dog bites in Bangalore. But the number of “wards” under the Bangalore metropolitan authorities has expanded greatly and many of them are not covered by the Animal Birth Control programme. Moreover, people seem not to ask whether there may also be an immediate provocation for the dogs to attack: were stones hurled at them or were they taunted?

Getting rid of independent community dogs might actually hurt the people of certain areas who depend on them to warn of the entry of strangers at night. At a time when attacks on the elderly and single women are increasing, should the city authorities be going after independent dogs?

In the above paragraphs the term independent canines or dogs has been used in preference to “stray dogs”. Dogs do not stray. Humans do: so many stray from the path of ethics and legality. Humans kill each other mindlessly and have periodically carried out genocides and pogroms merely because of slight differences in beliefs or skin colour, tribal lineage, language or regional origin.

If dogs sometimes attack humans or other dogs, they do so in line with what is dictated through their DNA – either in self-defence fearing an attack, to defend their “territory” or establish a place in a pecking order.

There is one curious practice among Indian dogs that might raise questions as to whether they discriminate against collectors of recyclable materials, often referred to as “ragpickers”. These men and women tend to look unkempt. Have independent dogs imbibed human attitudes towards recyclers? Or could it be that the recyclers’ sacks are a smorgasbord of scents and smells and the dogs – endowed with the keenest of noses – are displaying not hostility but excitement at the approach of this medly of aromas?

Approval for Pogrom?

That the Chief Justice of a High Court has gone so far as to approve of pogroms against this marvellous fellow species is deeply saddening and disturbing. Has the judge taken a walk along Bangalore’s roads and made eye contact with independent dogs that loll about peacefully, minding their own business? If he does so, he might see the spark in their eyes, a questioning look with occasionally an endearing tilt of the head, pricking-up of the ears, wagging of the tail and a body language conveying curiosity and an eagerness to communicate, to receive and return affection.

But instead, he has chosen to align with those destroying the soul of the city, those who have already removed a lot of its trees and lakes, added millions of cars and thousands of tonnes of rubbish and dust, choking humans and non-humans alike.

As the judgment goes against Article 51 A, clause (g), of the Indian constitution, which enjoins citizens “to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures”, the Supreme Court is most likely to set it aside as it has done previous misguided moves by authorities in other cities. (Animal rights activists ought to rope in the support of biscuit manufacturers – makers of Parle-G, Sunfeast and others – whose products are offered by millions of people on the streets of Bangalore and other cities to independent dogs. Should a “culling” take place, biscuit-makers will suffer a dent in revenues!)

Changing the pernicious mindset behind the BBMP’s move as endorsed by the Karnataka High Court will need much greater effort and longer campaigning.

Addendum

On February 6th, Supreme Court stayed Karnataka High Court order directing the BBMP to cull strays that are a ‘menace’ or ’cause nuisance’. Source: strays.in

CUPA’s petition was admitted in Supreme Court (SC) on 6th Feb 2013, and a stay granted against #5 of the operational order of the Karnataka High Court judgement. CUPA had filed its Special Leave Petition in the SC against the final judgement and order dated 07-12-2012 passed by the Honorable High Court in WP No. 37197 of 2012 in the matter of Jishnu G Vs BBMP and others.

In granting the stay, the Judge mentioned that it was a very good order, unlike the Mumbai High Court order, but was convinced by arguments of AWBI and CUPA’s counsels regarding point #5 specifically. CUPA had been under tremendous pressure, for the last 2 months, ever since the High Court order was announced, with public comments on many electronic fora condemning the order and predicting dire consequences for all stray dogs in the state. The Honorable Judge’s comments vindicate CUPA’s stand that the HC order was mostly good, since it upheld the ABC programme. CUPA, along with the Animal Lovers’ Association were the only two organizations who finally took the matter to SC on the point regarding “nuisance” dogs.


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16 Comments

  1. In place called shivajinagar idiots chained an innocent animals and killing more than 10 puppies without any mercy please someone should take an action about them..

  2. Hello every animal lover out there and other mindless people(dog haters),

    I’ll start from the beginning and I’ll break it up to you so that you can understand the problem of street dogs well. I have worked with street dogs in 7 different contries and if anyone knows how this menace happens it’s me….

    Before you complain about rising dog population just sit in a quite corner of your house and think how they are getting the food, water and shelter that is needed for increase in population.
    I’ll tell you how, in a city like bangalore where there is absolutely no recycling, organic composting, and other “correct waste management” techniques it’s no surprise how the dogs get there daily food.
    In many I mean most parts of Bangalore you can see piles of garbage with all sorts of “god knows what kind” of things and stuff in it. Before you complain about the dog population think about the time when you threw your garbage bag from your terrace on to the street. People here follow everything from the western world except waste management, respectig women, minding their own bussiness(don’t even get me started on this) and ofcourse “SYSTEMATIC PROBLEM SOLVING”.

    And dog chasing problem??? I hope you are educated enought to undeerstand that if someone traces back the menace it’ll lead to you, the unsorted garbage which you throw outside. got it??????

    Bangalore has some of the nicest street dogs I’ve seen, you look at them as if they are some barbaric, emotionless and mindless animals here to bite and main you and your children. They have feelings, dreams and wishes just like your ten your old kid does, know that…!!

    Now about the street dog adoption program, I have seen some of the best dog lovers in and around bangalore but at the same time I’ve seen some absolute idiots who have no idea how to care for a dog or take care of themselves if you think so. They clain the indie’s are mindless where as western dogs are not. AND FOR THE SAKE OF GOD, INDIE’S ARE NOT “MIXED BREEDS”.
    They are some of the best breeds hiding in plain sight, “Great Indian black thorn”, completely black except for white streaks on the chest or at the tail tip, “pariah”, extremely intelegent and disease resistant, “terrier” – beautiful furry tail and extremely active, and much more.

    And obviously I have to talk about BBMP, well what can I say about it? These people think cutting of a dog’s ear to “mark it” as a neutered dog is better than installing a microchip even though it’ll cost 2 INR to get a microchip. Highky lazy inefficient, corrupt organization.

    And finally the mindset of the people, care for a street dog and you’ll know the benefits of it, look at the news flashes where a street dog saved a women from a thief just because she used to care for it daily. Learn and change, think differently. Dogs are an important part of human society and nobody can deny it, respect them and appreciate them.

  3. Hi Sir

    Please suggest any possible solution to Dogs Chasing problem.
    Years ago dogs were not a problem (at least in our area in Bangalore), but off late dogs have learnt to chase kids, cycles, adults, two wheelers and cars.

    They just pop out from under parked cars and attack walkers. Day and night.
    Children and Two wheelers are most affected. It is almost like a mishap waiting to happen.

    As an animal lover, it has been really hard to see things happening.
    Dog complaints have been registered. Most dogs are neutered. Not all.

    What can be done. Please help

  4. Hi Sir

    Please suggest any possible solution to Dogs Chasing problem.
    Years ago dogs were not a problem (at least in our area in Bangalore), but off late dogs have learnt to chase kids, cycles, adults, two wheelers and cars.

    They just pop out from under parked cars and attack walkers. Day and night.
    Children and Two wheelers are most affected. It is almost like a mishap waiting to happen.

    As an animal lover, it has been really hard to see things happening.
    Dog complaints have been registered. Most dogs are neutered. Not all.

    What can be done. Please help

  5. I completely agree w/ Mr N Jayaram regarding these helpless and homeless dogs.People should realise that even these animals have the same senses as of ours.Imagine getting culled in a barbaric way(meant in human form) is just atrocious

  6. There are about 200 dogs in my locality. Today they killed my cat, and no it was not a pure breed cat. tomorrow they may kill a child too. Too much of anything is bad, even if they are the lovely looking, disease carrying, innocent yet killer dogs. If anyone wishes to bring jungles to city, i’ll be happy to be an animal and kill them all.

  7. Dog menace is not confined to large cities alone. Terror being unleashed on human beings in urban areas needs to be controlled effectively. City garbage left-over food items contain various kinds of chemicals and whether the canines are equipped with an immune system for digesting such chemicals is debatable.However, compared with the behavior of stray dogs a few decades ago, the present day dogs are behaving in a ferocious manner. Vaccines are not readily available in case of dog bites. Here is solution: Round up all street dogs, subject them to medical check up, segregate the healthy ones, adore them with numbered GPS collars, invite all those who emphathise and sympathise, to take as many dogs as possible subject to their giving a written undertakng that they will keep the dogs inside their homes and not allow them outside; if they abandon them and the dogs are found on the streets, they will have to pay a hefty fine. This way, we may contain the dog menace substantially. Even after this, we will be left with lots of dogs that are healthy but are a burden to society. These may be transported and let loose in nearby forest areas where man animal conflict is rampant. This way, we will help maintain food chain to the wild animals in forests who can get their food in their domains and prevent cheetahs, leopards, hyenas etc., riding nearby human habitats and carrying away dogs, cows, calves, fowls. This will result in multiple benefits – no need to spend money to cater, on culling and less terror on streets and for a win-win situation.

    These are not to be considered as inhuman since there already exists a natural food chain system of similar nature in most forest areas where wild life exist and nobody expresses concern about such an arrangement.

  8. If for every five house one dog is adopted, this world would be a beautiful place for all of us to live in. Its not just the strays that bark, dogs in your neighbours house could also be barking….thats what dogs are for. You don’t expect them to bray. All it requires is a heart and willingness to adopt.
    I am re producing an article from the ToI Bangalore edition dated Nov 27, 2012
    “Bangalore: Vets’ jobs are going a-begging in Karnataka, and not many want to look down doggy throats or listen to a horse’s heartbeat.
    Animal population in Karnataka: 3,28,83,251
    Number of posts sanctioned: 2,393
    Number of vets: 1,626 Vets paid less than medical officers. Every third post of a veterinarian in Karnataka is lying vacant. The reasons are not too far to seek: Of the 110 graduates who complete the course every year, most prefer cushy jobs with an add on degree or study abroad to land better opportunities.
    Add to it the low pay scale. Sreenivas Reddy, president of the Karnataka Veterinary Association said: “The salary of a veterinary doctor is Rs 26,000, lower than that of a medical officer. Consequently, there are vacancies every year but very few graduates to fill the seats. Promotion opportunities are nil and there are no allowances. We’ve been fighting for better pay for two years now, but to no avail.”
    Two of the four colleges under the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Science University are not recognized by the Indian Veterinary Council”.
    In a situation like this, how do we create a peaceful and a happy place for all. Its time we joined hands than be divided. For every one nice thing that a person wants to do, hundred hands go up opposing it. Culling these beautiful “man’s best friend” is not a solution. Unfortunately we humans are on the top of the food chain and think what we do is the right behaviour and we are the only supreme power to fix things.
    Mull on it…lets stop the brutality

  9. there’s a lot that can be done to keep a check on the population of dogs on the road. if you are aware of a location where dogs haven’t been sterilized please call any one of the following organizations, some are more responsive than others..

    CUPA – http://cupabangalore.org/
    Sarvodaya – http://www.strays.in/index.php/2011/09/a-very-good-abc-center-at-sarvodaya-sevabhavi-sanstha-at-veterinary-hospital-mysore-road-chamrajpet-bangalore-investigation-on-7-sept-2011/
    PFA – http://www.peopleforanimalsbangalore.org
    Krupa – http://krupaanimalsbangalore.wordpress.com
    Karuna – http://www.karunaanimalwelfare.org/

    as for the comment by @ BengaluruBudhi, if you want to eat dogs, please go ahead. there are places in India (you don’t have to go to china for it) where you’ll be served up dog. but just because you’re a nuisance doesn’t mean we go about cutting your fingers so you can’t type anymore??? maybe you just want attention which is why you’re saying all this, either way i feel sorry for you…

  10. Let’s look back at it little bit.
    The human population is exploding. The earth’s resources are being used, abused, and depleted from usage by humans. Garbage keeps piling, thanks to waste generated by humans that they are unable to dispose off responsibly resulting in rodents and other scavenger breeds multiplying naturally – an attempt at restoring ecological balance.

    But, ah! Birth control for whichever species the humans please to control. Extinction of those they please or not. Let’s declare a sport of doomsday prediction of when the resources will finally dwindle or try to inhabit another planet or moon. And, let’s find another specie that can’t speak up and defend themselves to blame and beat on, shall we?

    BengaluruBudhi – be careful what you wish for. You obviously speak trash. There’s enough trash on Bangalore streets and people are just looking to blame someone. Beware, they may just pick you and dog lovers wouldn’t be complaining. We’ll wait for you to turn to compost.

  11. @BengaluruBudhi:
    May I ask who YOU are guided by? Or is this self-generated wisdom?
    Since you confirm that blood makes a good fertilizer, and since human blood would be obviously cheaper given the human population in this country, would you like to go first and make a wonderful example of it? It would also be very good riddance..
    And if this idea sounds appalling to you, then I suggest you hold back your ridiculous comments before the pet loving community hunts you down and cuts YOUR vocal chords.

  12. @Uday – if the dogs are multiplying at a rapid rate, then please call your local ABC program and get them sterilized. This will reduce the population. The unnecessary barking will also reduce, as this kind of barking is due to hormonal surge, which disappears when the dogs have been sterilized. Living in harmony with dogs is not difficult. It just takes a little thought from our end, and we can achieve good results. Dogs have always been part of our civilization and India has had a long history of living in harmony with our animals.

  13. @Uday
    ‘Strays’ are trained to bark at night!
    Suggest pets surgically have their vocal cords cut as done in the West.
    @Jayaram & CUPA
    You are misguided. If you want dogs and cats like in the West, better be ruthless like they are when it comes to destroying strays. For now, I suggest you pet lovers adopt all the strays and make sure they don’t bother the rest of us. And for lobbying the manufacturers of biscuits, I would like to lobby the manufacturers of organic fertilizers, blood makes good fertilizer and dog blood would be cheap. And why not eat dogs and cats like they do in China/Korea? Time to align with China on many cultural matters!

  14. After the gang-rape protests, I was wondering why we did not do so for the children who died of dog bites. Perhaps they didn’t belong to the same ‘class’?
    Why didn’t we call for the eradication of dogs and other pests? Why this sympathy for dogs and cats? (perhaps it is another legacy from our colonial masters). Why is it OK to cull chickens?
    Come on, get real! Just because the articulate and powerful few like a selected few animals species we cant let them come and create a nuisance or danger for other humans. (not that humans are not the greatest pests on Earth). Every animal on public spaces should be removed (Pet lovers can keep them at home – and please, spare a thought for other animals – many pet lovers are also non-vegetarians, feeding their pets slaughtered flesh (many vegetarians do this too) of other species.) You may have pets at home for all I care, but dont bring them outside your property. If you feel sympathy for a particular animal species, please make sure they do not create a nuisance for others, do not use public resources for your idiosyncrasies.

  15. These stray dogs in my locality are multiplying like mad – from 5 last year some 15 this year.

    They bark non-stop through the night. I am not saying they should be killed, but they should be prevented from multiplying like this.

    It is nice to be kind to animals, but I wish the dogs are kind to people and don’t make so much noise.

  16. Its unfortunate that these amazing hybrids (unbred landraces) are not given their due, so many dogs are being ruthlessly neutered, i wouldnt be surprised if in some years the breed is completely lost or impaired beyond sustenance. They are smart, resilient and least maintenance (and in my personal opinion – each one of them is unique and great looking). They need to be taken care of, they have been with us for so many generations. Now, dogs (animals in general) are easy targets especially when it comes to sidetracking real issues like garbage problem…dogs are dragged to the fore and culling them seems to be some means of resolving the garbage crises ! a sense of accomplishment gained with such ease.

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